Monday, 13 October 2008


Anna-Mix trembled and talked to herself in a quiet voice. She wore a long white dress like an old-fashioned night-gown, a string of yellowed fake-pearls around her neck, and carried a carpet bag. Sometimes she found things and put them in the carpet bag; no-one ever saw her take anything out of it. Two days ago she'd found a ripped blue dog collar and had put that in her bag, smiling hugely and showing her teeth. Now she was eyeing some soft lemons rolling in the gutter next to crisp autumn leaves and the fingers of her left hand were twitching spasmodically.

Across the street from where she was stood, her face almost hawk-like as she concentrated on her lemon-prize, was a small white Ka in which were sat two small white men: midgets. The driver was smoking a cigar from which greasy gray smoke rose, and the passenger was pointing a digi-cam at Anna-Mix. A little red light on the front of the digi-cam told anyone who cared that it was recording. The midgets had been following Anna-Mix for three days.

There was a moment when everyone seemed to pause: just for an instant no-one moved, the traffic waited for a light to change colour, a young girl to cross at the zebra crossing; people looked in shop windows and their attention was caught, or sunlight through the leaves of the trees in the park across the road from Anna-Mix sparkled brightly and hypnotically and enchanted them; the postman stopped kicking the dog just before his foot connected, and the elderly matron whose dog it was froze while she gathered all of her righteous indignation, normally saved for accusing people in church of backsliding. Just for an instant the local area seemed to exist in an inter-calary second, and somehow in that extra moment of time, that spare second that was unowned, unrecognised, Anna-Mix moved.

The traffic started again, people moved on unsure why they'd stopped, and the postman and matron started an argument that would end in nine months time in a still-birth of both child and marriage. And Anna-Mix plucked the midget from the passenger seat of the Ka and put him and his camera into her carpet bag.

Soft, rotting lemons rolled in the gutter with crisp autumn leaves that were waiting to crunch under someone's foot and there was a sensation of neglect, and then it was gone again. The midget driving the car looked round and saw no Anna-Mix, and then looked the other way and saw his passenger had disappeared. With a soft expletive spat out next to the cigar he started the Ka's engine and drove away.

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